May 28, 2009

Tired of Being a Red Ink Slave to Corrections?

I'm delighted to announce my latest article is now on The Writing Teacher: Tired of Being a Red Ink Slave to Corrections? This article is based on a lecture from my course, Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits.

As part of this publication, The Writing Teacher is sponsoring a Free Webinar on June 2, 2009 11:00 am PDT. I'll be online live talking about how editing fits in the writing process; thanks to Wimba and Learning Express e-folio.

Here's the teaser:

Are you burning yourself out offering comments that are ignored? Are you a red-ink slave spoon-feeding your students doses of correctness? The Editing Not Correcting Webinar will help you shift the burden of correcting conventions to where it belongs: on the student. Shift your thinking and help them learn to become editors and assessors of their own writing.

I hope to see and hear you online!

~ Dennis

May 27, 2009

Effective Communications Month

Resources from Annenburg Media &

In "Teaching Persuasive Writing," Program 4 of Write in the Middle: A Workshop for Middle School Teachers, teachers Jenny Beasley and Jack Wilde present their lessons on writing editorials and persuasive writing. Find lesson plans and samples of real student work in PDF format.

An understanding of one's audience is absolutely essential to successful communication. In the program "Different Audiences," high school teachers, educators, authors, and students discuss the importance of the writing process, how to identify the audience, different audiences and how to address them, and related topics. From Developing Writers: A Workshop for High School Teachers.

Fifth-grade teacher Laura Alvarez guides her students through techniques of debate and persuasion, plus research and organizational strategies, in "Social Justice and Action," Workshop 7 of Teaching Multicultural Literature: A Workshop for the Middle Grades.

Effective rhetorical strategy depends on a sound understanding of psychology. Learn more about how the human mind works with Discovering Psychology: Updated Edition. In particular, see Program 6, which looks at language development and social communication, and Program 8, which explains factors affecting motivation and emotions.

See how communication fosters an understanding of mathematical ideas and the language of mathematics in the "Communication" programs of Teaching Math: A Video Library, K-4 and Teaching Math: A Video Library, 9-12.

The programs of News Writing cover public relations writing, feature writing styles, and column and editorial writing among other topics. Read the related News Writing Interviews, in which celebrated columnists give their views on writing, news, humor, and more.

Learn ways to help your students communicate more effectively in a foreign language. Watch "Delivering the Message," Workshop 3 of Teaching Foreign Languages K-12 Workshop, which looks at elements of an effective oral or written presentation.

Teachers encourage high school students to communicate genuinely and creatively through dance and visual media in "Fostering Genuine Communication," Workshop 6 of The Art of Teaching the Arts.

May 22, 2009

Wordle: Play with words!

This image was generated by a unique website called Wordle.

I 'fed' Wordle the contents of this blog and it generated a collage of the most frequently used words in the blog.

Think about it; what would you see it you fed Wordle a page from Shakespeare, or the names of all the kids in your class? What we have here, is a way to play with words that will intrigue our students; and let's admit it... this will be fun for us too!

Five Reasons to Use Wordle in the Classroom by Terry Freedman

For a quick tour of how Wordle can be used by educators read this informative post from Terry Freeman. Here are Freedman's ideas on how to use this tool:
  • As a means of summarizing the content of an essay or other piece of work.
  • Wordle is handy for self-reflection.
  • Wordle can be used by the teacher as a means of assessment.
  • Wordle is also good for summonsing survey results where the survey uses free text fields.
  • Wordle is just as good a way as any to break up the text a bit!

I couldn't resist creating another Wordle image based on my new article in the Writing Teacher: Tired of Being a Red Ink Slave to Corrections?

Go ahead... make your day... play with words with Wordle!

May 18, 2009

The Write Guy: Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson offers powerful resources for all of us looking for an effective, positive, and thoughtful way to improve student writing conventions with a writing process approach.

I always suggest that teachers leave their red pens behind and shift responsibility to the student by teaching them editing skills. After all, when we do all the correcting, we also get all the practice.

For more on this approach see my latest article on The Writing Teacher: Tired of Being a Red Ink Slave to Corrections? This article is based on a lecture from my course, Teaching and Assessing Writing with the 6-Traits.

However, the road to great conventions is paved with more than editing lessons... as Jeff Anderson will help us see.

Notable Sentences Blog

Loren Wolter maintains this remarkable resource. "This blog is a resource for teachers who wish to view grammar as something to be explored and not just corrected. Sometimes even teachers who want to set aside tired, old daily language practices have trouble doing so due to the seeming abundance of those deplorable, error-filled sentences and the apparent lack of stimulating, "explore-able" model sentences. As you read adult, young adult, and children's books, please share the noteworthy sentences you find, so that we may build a useful resource together."

Jeff Anderson Resources:

The Write Guy

This is Jeff's personal website and it has resources you need. Well worth exploring. From his site: "Jeff Anderson has taught writing and reading for over 18 years. Over his career, Jeff has worked with writers in grades K-12, focusing in grades 4-8. Jeff’s passion is motivating and developing struggling writers with instructional strategies such as writer’s workshop and process writing, with a particular interest in making editing and grammar in context a meaning-making experience for students and teachers. Sharing strategies to create positive attitudes and confidence in young writers are central goals of his staff development and writing. "

Stenhouse Publishing: Author's Page

Jeff's books are published by Stenhouse. They have a lot of Jeff's work available online. (For Free!)

Everyday Editing: Inviting Students to Develop Skill and Craft in Writer's Workshop

Mechanically Inclined: Building Grammar, Usage, and Style into Writer's Workshop

Zooming In and Out: Putting Grammar In Context Into Context (PDF)
Copyright 2006 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Reprinted with permission

"Jeff Anderson’s lessons involve shifting focus between writing or reading and speciļ¬c grammar problems inner-city middle school students encounter. Lessons or discussions on a topic are then applied to a larger context so that students see “the story of grammar’s power to communicate meaning and beauty.”

Author's in Action: Jeff Anderson demonstrates an alternative to daily oral language.
A podcast of Jeff working with teachers using an editing activity based on a mentor sentence of writer Maya Angelou

The Craft of Grammar (DVD): Integrated Instruction in Writer's Workshop
(DVD, some online video clips!)


If you've been looking for a new way to improve writing conventions, you've found it! ~ Dennis